Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Carla O'Connor says student achievement standards in NCLB waivers that vary by race and ethnicity institutionalize the idea that not all children can learn and achieve at similar levels

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Carla O'Connor says the premises behind new standards for student achievement that vary by race and ethnicity are a huge step backward and institutionalize the idea that not all children can learn and achieve at similar levels. She comments in a November 19, 2012 article in The Atlantic.

Some states have applied to the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver from the requirements of No Child Left Behind, that will allow them to adjust their "annual measurable objectives" for schools so that the percentage of students that must show progress on standardized tests varies by race and ethnic group. In Florida, for example, 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of whites, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of blacks will be expected to demonstrate proficiency on the state's reading assessments by 2018. A similar sliding scale has been set for mathematics.

The problems with the move to alter achievement goals by race and ethnicity are compounded by the tests being used for accountability that are measuring only basic skills. "The tests we're using aren't capturing higher-ordered thinking. These are basic-level skills and now we're saying we don't think certain populations of students can even meet those expectations," O'Connor says.

Carla O'Connor is Professor, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

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